Biber glaciation

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The Biber glaciation (German: Biber-Kaltzeit), Biber Glacial (Biber-Glazial), Biber Complex (Biber-Komplex) or Biber Ice Age (Biber-Eiszeit) is the oldest glacial period of the Pleistocene epoch. It is not part of the traditional four-stage glaciation schema of the Alps by Albrecht Penck and Eduard Brückner, but was named after the Biberbach river north of Augsburg in 1953 by Ingo Schaefer, based on the naming system of the traditional Penck schema.[1][2] Its type region is the Stauden Plateau in the Iller-Lech Plateaux and the Staufenberg Gravel Terrace in the area of Aindling. The Biber glaciation is followed by the Biber-Danube interglacial.


In 1953, Schaefer defined the Biber glaciation from gravel landforms of the Stauden Plateau in the area of the Iller-Lech Plateau and in the Aindling terrace sequence, by grouping together the so-called Middle and Upper Cover Gravels or Deckenschotter. This corresponded to the Staufenberg Gravel Terrace on the Iller-Lech Plateau, identified in 1974 by Scheunenpflug, and the so-called High Gravels (Hochschottern) of the Aindling region.[3] The rich crystalline sedimentary facies (Kristallinreiche Liegendfazies), that Löscher distinguished in 1976 in the area of the Rhine Glacier of the western Riß-Iller Plateau may also be paralleled with these glacial landforms.[4] The gravels in the Iller-Lech region ascribed to the Biber glaciation are generally heavily weathered and originate from the Northern Limestone Alps. Löscher's Kristallinreiche Liegendfazies, by contrast, originates from the bedrock of the molasse zone.

Any connexion with the glacial classification of North Germany and the Netherlands is problematic. The Biber glacial correlates either to the Eburonian complex or the Pre-Tiglian complex in the Netherlands. In the former case it would correspond to MIS 56 to 62, which would place it in the period between 1.6 and 1.8 million years ago,[5][6] in the latter case it would roughly correspond to MIS 96 to 100, and would therefore have taken place about 2.4 to 2.588 million years ago.[7][8][9] The correlation is fraught with problems however due to the fact that the corresponding depositions in the Netherlands were probably not governed by climatic changes. Similar doubts on climatic grounds for the depositions assessed as Biber-related also exist in the Alpine region. It is possible that there were tectonic influences perhaps in the wake of the uplift phases of the Alps. The succession and appearance of the gravel bodies makes it possible that during their formation there were several periods of alternating fluvial erosion and accumulation.

The Biber cold period at least corresponds partly with the Swiss cover gravel glaciations (Deckenschotter-Vergletscherungen).[10]


Gravels ascribed to the Biber glacial period (also called the Highland Gravel or Oldest Gravel (Ältester Deckenschotter) occur northwest of Augsburg as the Stauffenberg Gravel (Stauffenberg-Schotter), as well as northeast as the Hohenried Gravel (Hohenrieder Schotter) and southwest of Augsburg as the Stauden Plateau Gravel (Schotter der Stauden-Platte). Also included are isolated gravels of the Hochfirst near Mindelheim and the Stoffersberg near Landsberg am Lech.[11] There may also be gravels in the Sundgau from the Biber ice age.


  1. ^ I. Schaefer (1956), "Sur la division du Quaternaire dans l'avant-pays des Alpes en Allemagne" (in German), Actes IV Congres INQUA, Rome/Pise 1953 2: pp. 910–914 
  2. ^ I. Schaefer (1957), Bayerisches Geologisches Landesamt München, ed. (in German), Erläuterungen zur Geologischen Karte von Augsburg und Umgebung, 1:50.000 
  3. ^ L. Scheunenpflug (1974), "Zur Stratigraphie altpleistozäner Schotter südwestlich bis nordöstlich Augsburg (östliche Iller-Lech-Platte)" (in German), Heidelberger geographische Arbeiten (Heidelberg) 40: pp. 87-94 
  4. ^ M. Löscher (1976), "Die präwürmzeitliche Schotterablagerungen in der nördlichen Iller-Lech-Platte" (in German), Heidelberger Geographische Arbeiten (Heidelberg) 45: pp. 1–157 
  5. ^ Lorraine E. Lisiecki; Maureen E. Raymo (2005), "A Plio-Pleistocene Stack of 57 Globally Distributed Benthic δ18O Records" (in German), Paleoceanography 20 
  6. ^ Gibbard, P.L., Cohen, K.M. (2008), "Global stratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 Million years." (in German), Episodes 31: pp. 243-247 
  7. ^ Kuhlmann, G. (2004), "High resolution stratigraphy and paleoenvironmental changes in the southern North Sea during the Neogene - An integrated study of Late Cenozoic marine deposits from the northern part of the Dutch offshore area. (Thesis Utrecht University)" (in German), Geologica Ultraiectina, Mededelingen van de Faculteit Aardwetenschappen (Utrecht) 245: pp. 1-205 
  8. ^ Meijer, T., Cleveringa, P., Munsterman, D.K., Verreussel, R.M.C.H. (2006), "The Early Pleistocene Praetiglian and Ludhamian pollen stages in the North Sea Basin and their relationship to the marine isotope record." (in German), Journal of Quaternary Science 21: pp. 307-310 
  9. ^ Gibbard, P.L., Cohen, K.M. (2008), "Global stratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 Million years." (in German), Episodes 31: pp. 243-247 
  10. ^ Ueli Reinmann (2004), "Auf den Spuren der Eiszeit im Raum Wangen a. A. : Neue Erkenntnisse auf Grund von bodenkundlichen Untersuchungen im Endmoränengebiet des Rhonegletschers" (in German), Jahrbuch des Oberaargaus 47: pp. 135–152, 
  11. ^ Walter Freudenberger; Klaus Schwerd (1996) (in German), Geologische Karte von Bayern 1:500000 mit Erläuterungen. 1 Karte + Erläuterungen + 8 Beilagen (4. ed.), München: Bayrisches Geologisches Landesamt, pp. 238 ff 


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